Critique of Naomi Wolf's article: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Subject: Fascist America,  in 10 easy steps (below) | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Naomi could have done more research.  She's right about Bush and Clinton and early signs of fascism of course, but this is a system which has been modified in the USA to not rely on a single leader.  Anyone who will transfer power and sovereignty to the Feds, and economic liberty to the mulitnationals, is acceptable.

Watered-down MOONBAT liberal opinions do not help the cause. Either go for the gusto or join the Republicans.

(This is a critique, not a condemnation. No disrespect meant to Naomi Wolf as a person. I'm sure she's very nice, heart in the right place, yada yada.  Same for her fans.  My point is being a helpful critic, considering these comments:  writing articles that appeal only to the already-converted does not create a credible movement for solutions, just division and ridicule.  Some people are hostile, and ideologically in another world, but many conservatives want many of the same things liberals want.)
She's partly wrong about ThailandI'm not sure on more recent developments.  The military coup took over and kicked out a corrupt President when he was away in the US, generating a huge media splash.  Things were quiet during the coup, mostly proceeding as normal.  People away from the center of the capital did not know what was going on.  I saw a YouTube self-interview by a young Australian teacher working there, with some of his students, and other reports.  CNN spun it in their propaganda manner, since the neo-liberal President was a puppet/ally of the Washington Consensus.  This President was like Marcos, a robber and criminal to his own country.
On , some described the coup as a good thing.  At least at that time, though I'm not clear on developments.  (On second look, it appears that the corrupt neo-liberal Thaksin may have been replaced by a worse military dictatorship.  They are censoring the Internet and imposing other non-democratic rules.)
Naomi left out many things.  She implies that fascism could develop some day, the softness of her article implies that this is a remote threat, but worth some mild nail-biting.  She seems to fail to reveal intent in her writing.
"It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is."   Don't be so sure, Naomi.

This statement directly contradicts Zbignew Brzezinski, the guy who founded Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Naomi could have at least mentioned that fact.  Does Naomi not even know?  If not, why is she a "reporter"?

The fact that Brzezinski called the "threat of global Islam" "nonsense" can be taken in several contexts: 
  • One, Brzezinski was wrong.  
  • Two, Muslim Brotherhood exists, but it's mostly local to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, i.e. it's not "global". 
  • Three, some Al-Qaeda fragments are in the US, but not enough to seriously mount a threat to America as a whole. The occupation of Washington and the takeover of the military and media by neo-conservatives is a bigger threat. 
  • Four, American intelligence has ALWAYS supported Al-Qaeda --- all the way back to World War TwoBoth CIA and the Nazis provided strong support for the Islamo-fascistic Muslim Brotherhood, which is home base of Al-Qaeda.  The US was still running Al-Qaeda in 1979 up to the withdrawal of Soviet forces.  CIA and Pentagon was running with Al-Qaeda in the late 90's in Kosovo (according the the Senate Republican Kosovo Report) ... and we're still running it today.  Al-Qaeda is just one of the many fascist proxy armies of death squads and covert military units the US hires.
Which context is it?  Naomi dodges misses the issue completely.
She could have also mentioned that although it was a surprise attack on Americans, it was not a surprise attack to some 20 or more of our allies who did warn us, including one of the Taliban leaders.  Apparently it must not been that much of a surprise attack to the dozen top American leaders who publicly wished for and hoped for just that event.  (People have cognitive dissonance about that, so I'm clarifying that this was written in books and papers.) 
It pisses me off so much that Naomi Wolf, as respected as she is, would not simply state the fact that THREE of our top foreign policy experts wrote about Sept 11 in advance as a lucky event they hoped might occur, and the fourth was an organization consisting of some 20 - 50 top people who also almost demanded such an event to jump start more aggressive US foreign policy -- a new Pearl Harbor leading into a New American Century of war.  Just like a playbook, their disaster miraculously occurred right on time. [sarcasm] Probably a coincidence.  Couldn't involve planning.  [/sarcasm]
At very least, it's a treasonous sentiment which should be exposed and questioned, but it's obviously much more.  The fact that it's not mentioned should be a clue.  These are the same think tanks behind orchestrating the war, and behind the "news" spouted by "experts" on Fox and other major media.  Google PNAC or simply "new pearl harbor".  That's not just the title of a conspiracy theory book by David Ray Griffin, it's the description of what PNAC said they wanted.
Michael Ledeen published a nasty paper called Code Alpha (alt) (local) on Sept 11, probably within hours of the attack if not in advance, which taunted intelligence and demanded the President wage war, if he was a leader capable of waging war.  Ledeen set the precedent and tone for belligerence that day, but it was pre-set by himself and others who had been clamoring for this war for a decade.  However, he certainly did not have to chastize the President, as that was the whole reason Bush was (s)elected.
Ledeen is the source of the yellowcake uranium hoax, which led to the Joseph Wilson/Valerie Plame scandal.  Ledeen is tight with PNAC people like Richard Perle.  Ledeen is an "adjunct scholar" with the American Enterprise Institute.  AEI also wrote the plans for this "surge".  Ledeen was once investigated by the FBI, and briefly lost his security clearance, for spying for Israel.
Bush is their man.  I wouldn't say "puppet" or "pawn", since he can think and be aggressive.  I would say "willing stooge".  Bush fits the role of "attractive media personality" who Brzezinski said would manipulate the public emotionally and mentally in the Technotronic age of engineered soft-totalitarianism.  Nobody said "attractive media personality" had to be a news anchor.  It could be actors, writers, even Presidents.  Bush did say he was "basically a media creation". 
Ledeen basically ordered Bush to invade Iraq.  He named Saddam as the guilty party that morning, and sarcastically suggested that Bushco should read Laurie Mylroie for a source of info on Saddam's connections to the 1993 attacks.  Laurie writes for a PR firm (psychological warfare on the public) called Benador whose sole goal and purpose was to launch a war with Iraq.  Prior to this, Ledeen called Pearl Harbor a "lucky" event, and hoped for a repeat of that luck.  This is beyond conjecture.  Prior to that, in Ledeen's past, he published books cheerleading for Machiavelli (obviously on power and war) and promoting Universal Fascism (a world based on the principles of the Waffen SS) --- he was in favor of both. 
How can Ms. Wolf NOT know about this?  Is she stupid?  No.  Then she must be a whore for the CIA-propagandists, "left wing" model.  Strong words?  At this late stage of the Bush phase of the war on terror, how can Ms. Wolf write a report on Fascism and fail to mention that one of Bush's top advisors wrote a book entitled "Universal Fascism"?  Could it just be negligence?  Like when that plane flew into the Pentagon an hour and a half after the hijackings started?
CIA has created these Left "dissidents" for years, entire magazines, cultural and art movements, even Gloria Steinem was an employee and a project of theirs.  See Frank Church, Operation Mockingbird.  See  
Ms. Wolf might have noted the fragmented mainstream news articles which attributed much of the 1993 bombing operation to a paid FBI informant who wore a wire and helped set up the bombing as FBI instructed him to do.  He practically ran the entire operation, including recruiting the patsies.  FBI even overruled his concerns that a fake explosive should be used to prevent deaths.  The informant caught this conversation with the FBI on tape (Emad Salem), and fragments of the story have been published in the NYT and LA Times, it's part of the record of Federal court proceedings, and it's been compiled into something sensible by both the right wing Free Republic (who wanted to accuse Clinton of anything), and the left wing Ralph Schoenman on  Go to and search the page for 1993.
If Ms. Wolf is a reporter and commentator, and has taken on the responsibility for informing the sheeple, how could she be completely unaware of this public record of deceit? 
Ms. Wolf's argument against fascism is a non-argument.  Using her math, we need more "facism", and neo-conservative polemicists from military-intelligence like O'Reilly can be vindicated in saying "Shut up you stupid liberal bitch and let us have our war for security, since you admit Al-Qaeda is a threat".  (I said "Using her math" ...)
Ms. Wolf could have explained something that Source Watch explains:  That a State of Emergency gives the President the authority to declare martial law -- fully or partially -- at any time, without even announcing it, or apparently to do so incrementally.  America has been under a continuous State of Emergency since 1933.  This is why the Executive has been able to amass more and more power, starting with FDR's emergency economic measures, but following with Truman's setting up a National Security State in 1947.  (This may have been related to the original War on Drugs, starting in 1937.)  Anytime the President declares a War on anything -- obesity, illiteracy, terror, drugs, you-name-it -- it's a State of Emergency. 
Bill Clinton was hated by Constitutionalists for writing over 300 Executive Orders turning over the functions of civil society to FEMA.  FEMA could take over all communications, agriculture, transportation, etc.  (An executive order is supposed to be for minor things the President might need, a new gardener and such.  There is a list of executive orders throughout US history, but it started ramping up under Nixon or Carter.)
Bush has more than doubled Clinton's Executive Orders to well over 700, and turned our entire civil society over to Michael Chertoff at Homeland Security instead of FEMA.  DHS was envisioned long before Sept 11.  You know that Bush did not write those Exec Orders he signed.  His Justice Dept did that.  The same one that said it's OK to crush a child's testicles if the President deems it necessary.
Ms. Wolf also leaves out times in the American past when dissent was considered tantamount to treason.
World War 1 antiwar activists, including Eugene Debs, imprisoned
Palmer raids
not rich businessmen who armed Hitler and promoted neutrality
Kent State and Jackson State, the President and VP identified young college students, men and women, boys and girls, who were tired of themselves and their peers being used as cannon fodder -- as well as being taught to murder -- were labled as enemy forces and then a bunch were murdered to set an example.
We had the Smith Act and the Alien and Sedition Act and other acts of Congress.
At least Wolf points out how the

John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

is a dangerous usurpation of power.  On paper, democracy and rule of law is finished.  America is already a political dictatorship.  We're an economic democracy, to an extent.  Maybe small business is hamstrung, but big business, foreign multi-national corporations, they have all the "democracy" they can handle at this point.
It's just a question of when and where they will test this Warner Act.  Probably first with a willing governor, to set a precedent.  Like in California, where Bush family friend and fellow Hitler-lover Arnold Schwarzenegger runs the show.  All we need is a riot or emergency there to launch this phase.  Can you say "Illegal immigrants started a riot in the summer of 2007.  The President ordered out Texas National Guard to restore order."?  The cops are already crackin' heads of peaceful demonstrators in LA, and news reporters armed with pens and cameras.  Hang on.  This is not a prediction, but events seem to be lining up in this direction.

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps,,2064157,00.html
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

· Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.

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{Gary, this wasn't you, was it? :)  Alleged American Al Qaeda Warns of U.S. Attacks )

No.  This was that fruitcake Adam Yahiye Gadahn.
However, some guy from Australia DID contact American authorities a year in advance --- and was rebuffed, just like the 12 different FBI agents.
NOW, I dont know if these warnings are true, or planted by the CIA overseas (as Rumsfeld later announced he was doing) in order to cover up what was transparently a major military operation, causing skyscrapers to explode and collapse to the earth in 15 seconds.  But they are officially news reports.  One carried in right wing Newsmax.
DAMN it was hard to find this:
Before 9/11, One Warning Went Unheard
    By Richard C. Paddock
    Los Angeles Times

    Monday 07 June 2004

    Perth, Australia - When Jack Roche telephoned Australia's intelligence agency in July 2000, he offered a tantalizing story: He had been to Afghanistan and ate lunch with Osama bin Laden. He had received training in explosives and plotted with Al Qaeda leaders to carry out a bombing in Australia.

    A Muslim convert, Roche was prepared to become an informant, his attorney says, and provide information about Al Qaeda; its Southeast Asian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah; and their goal of staging an attack in a Western country.

    But at the time - 14 months before the Sept. 11 attacks - no one was interested.

Actually, this article is one of many.

Did the U.S. Ignore Warning of 9-11 Attack? Staff
Sunday, Sept. 8,2002

An aide to the former Taleban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, has revealed that he was sent to warn American diplomats and the United Nations that Osama bin Laden was due to launch a huge attack on American soil.

Neither organisation heeded the warning, which was given just weeks before the 11 September attacks.

The aide said he had urged the Americans to launch a military campaign against al-Qaeda but was told that this was politically impossible. (just like Brzezinski and others said, we needed a new pearl harbor event first)

Mr Muttawakil, who was known to be deeply unhappy with the Arab and other foreign militants in Afghanistan, learned of Osama bin Laden's plan in July.

The attack was imminent, he discovered, and it would be huge. Bin Laden hoped to kill thousands of US citizens.

Destructive guests

The information had come not from other members of the Taleban but from the leader of the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, Tohir Yuldash, who had found refuge in Afghanistan and had good links with al-Qaeda.


- Prior Knowledge of Sept. 11 Not Just Urban Legend


- Egypt Leader Says He Warned America
- Egypt Warned U.S. of a Qaeda Plot, Mubarak Asserts
- German police confirm Iranian deportee phoned warnings
 Argentinians Say They Heard Terror Alert Weeks Before 9/11
 Missed Chance - A wasted FBI asset?
The FBI had a chance to infiltrate an al Qaeda training camp in the months before the September 11 attacks–and possibly learn about the coming strike–but the proposal was rejected by top officials, U.S. News has learned.
Hicks never dangerous, says US
DAVID Hicks was a bumbling wanna-be who would have been a "total liability" for al-Qaeda in any terrorist attack, it has been claimed.
In a scathing critique, Hicks's US military prosecutors have privately described the convicted Australian as a man of "no personal courage or intellect" who rolled over as soon as he was questioned.

And they have undermined the Australian Government's portrayal of Hicks as a dangerous terrorist by admitting that his crimes were relatively minor compared with those of his fellow inmates at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"I think he read Soldier of Fortune magazine too many times," said John Altenburg, the top US official in the Office of Military Commissions from 2004 to last year, speaking publicly about Hicks for the first time.
Here's an old list of news articles on prior warnings, a lot of broken links now.
here's one from a right wing site
CIA meeting with bin Laden

- Radio reports new CIA-Bin Laden details (UPI/WASHINGTON TIMES)
- Bin Laden Treated in US Hospital (UPI/WASHINGTON TIMES)
- La CIA aurait recontre Ben Laden en juillet - Original Le Figaro article in French)
- CIA Would Have Met bin Laden in July - Direct Translation From French Le Figaro Article
- CIA agent alleged to have met Bin Laden in July (LONDON GUARDIAN)
- Bin Laden 'met CIA agent before terror attacks' (ANANOVA)
- Bin Laden Underwent Treatment in July at Dubai American Hospital: Reports (AFP)
- CIA Says It Didn't Meet With bin Laden (NEWSMAX/UPI)
- Picture of original Le Figaro front page with Bin Laden CIA story
Warnings Ignored

- September 11 attacks called avoidable
- America warned two years ago over "September 11": report
- NSA Missed A Big Warning
- NSA didn't share key pre-Sept. 11 information, sources say
- New York Times pulled Al-Qaeda warning
- U.S. had agents inside al-Qaeda
- Wiretaps May Have Foretold Terror Attacks
- Condoleezza Rice Warned Sept. 6 About Imminent Terror Attack (by CFR member Hart)
- U.S. Ignored Warnings From French
- FBI Was Warned of Sept. 11 Hijacker (Knew phone number, address, car of Hanjour)
- Britain warned US to expect September 11 al-Qaeda hijackings
- Bulletins warned airports in '98
- FAA Warned of bin Laden in 1998
- Ashcroft drawn into row over September 11
- Bush was given hijack warning by British intelligence
- In Sept. 15 interview with NBC, Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged the administration had received warnings
- What Went Wrong: A chilling question - did Sept 11 have to happen?
- Washington was 'warned of hijack risk'
- GENOA: US and Italian officials alerted to possibility of suicide hijackings - Bush warned directly
- 1999 Report Warned of Suicide Hijack
- For years, signs suggested 'that something was up'
- What did the FBI know?
- Bush Administration Explanations for Pre-9-11 Warnings Fail the Smell Test
- Bush Told of Possible Hijack Plot Before Sept. 11
- Bush Was Told of Hijacking Dangers
- Congress Eyes Reaction to Pre-Sept. 11 Warnings
- Echelon gave authorities warning of attacks
- Alex Jones interview with respected lawyer David Schippers - Government had prior knowledge
- Middle East-OKC connection David Schippers tells Metcalf feds 'ignored' warnings of WTC attacks
- US Ignored Pending Terror attack Warning Says Former FBI Official
- Bin Laden Tipped His Hand
- CIA Cited Risk Before Attack
- Bush Did Not Heed Several Warnings of Attacks
- Skolnick - US Had Prior Knowledge Of Emergency
- Egypt Leader Says He Warned America
- Egypt Warned U.S. of a Qaeda Plot, Mubarak Asserts
- Who Did It? Warnings About bin Laden’s Group
- Early Warnings Pre-Sept. 11 Cautions Went Unheeded
- CIA 'ignored warning' on al Qaeda
- What We Knew: Warning Given......Story Missed
- Feds: Evidence suggests hijackers' support in U.S.
- CIA, FBI Disagree on Urgency of Warning
- FBI Ignored Warnings of Fanatical Student Pilot
- German police confirm Iranian deportee phoned warnings
- U.S. Commission on National Security warned Bush
- U.S. Identified Some Elements of Hijack Plot in Advance
- Earlier Hijackings Offered Signals That Were Missed
- The failure of government
- Warning signs - Should officials have known the terror attacks were coming?
- Transcript: Actor James Woods on O'Reilly  (9/11 hijackers do a dry run - FBI warned - nothing happens)
- The warnings about Sept. 11
- FBI 'ignored leads'
- Jim Pavitt admits CIA foreknowledge of 9/11 - "We knew and we warned that al Qaeda was planning a major strike."
- We've Hit the Targets (Newsweek reports that top Pentagon officials were warned and cancelled flights on September 10th)
- Many Say U.S. Planned for Terror but Failed to Take Action
- Argentinians Say They Heard Terror Alert Weeks Before 9/11
- Canada had hint of trouble pre-Sept. 11
- Missed Chance - A wasted FBI asset?
- German Intelligence Report warned Bush of exact date of terrorist attack
- Moroccan secret agent 'predicted New York attack'
- Spy chiefs warned ministers of al-Qaeda attacks
- Officials: Sept. 11 attacks were planned since 1998
- US Heard 'Tomorrow Is Zero Hour' on Eve of Attacks
- NSA Intercepts On Eve of 9/11 Sent a Warning
- Panel: '98 meeting foresaw 9/11 attack
- Military analyst's terror warning fell on deaf ears
- 'Ignorant and inept' FBI failed to heed warning of terrorist attacks
- P
ilot Said to Boast of Murder Year Before Sept 11 - "In addition the words 'World Trade Center' were mentioned."
- Taleban 'warned US of huge attack'
- Did the U.S. Ignore Warning of 9-11 Attack? US State Department Official Told by Taliban Aide of Huge and Imminent Attack in July 2001
- Prior Knowledge of Sept. 11 Not Just Urban Legend
- U.S. Knew of Terror Cell Before 9/11: Probe of Men Began After Return From Afghanistan in 2001
- US 'failed to heed' terror warnings
- Congress Was Warned Two Months Before 9/11 Attacks
- U.S. ignored terror signals, inquiry says
- CIA Knew About 3 Hijackers in 2000 - 9/11 Inquiry
- Alert on hijackers not 'urgent'
- Sept. 11 Hijacker Made Test Flights
- In April 2000, a man entered the FBI field office in Newark and detailed how he was involved in a plot by Osama bin Laden to hijack a Boeing 747